May 19, 2023 |
Rector's Blog, Inspired| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Rector's Blog, Inspired
Of course, I’m not an actor. I’m a priest. But Nicholson had a profound influence on my life. I mean, I was a good little fundamentalist Christian, so his fast-living reputation was not really for me growing up. But he had this way about him that just bowled me over. He seemed always to be utterly himself in whatever he did – even while convincingly playing fantastic characters. He was the Joker, or McMurphy, or J.J. Gittes, or Col. Jessup, or Melvin Udall, but at the same time he was Jack! And I loved that. When I was in college, my buddy Wes and I visited Hollywood and made our film lover’s pilgrimage to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This is the spot where many famous actors have put their hand and foot prints into the cement. I got down on my knees in front of Jack’s signature and placed my hands in his handprints. They fit perfectly. Wes’ hands fit in James Stewart’s. We floated away.
It's a strange thing to call someone your inspiration when you haven’t actually followed in their footsteps. A few years back I was at a concert and I ran into a comedian named Emo Phillips. He is not terribly famous, but when I was younger I had seen a stand-up special of his that was so absurd and outlandish that it had turned my idea of comedy upside down. I walked up to him that night and introduced myself. He was very gracious. I told him that he had been a big inspiration to me growing up. “Is that so?” he asked, “what do you do?” I said I was a priest, and without missing a beat he said, “Well obviously.”